Fans were first introduced to Grace Davies as the talented singer-songwriter who participated in the fourteenth season of The X Factor in 2017. Unlike most contestants who took part in the show, Davies proved she was the real deal by performing many original songs she had penned throughout the competition. Making it all the way to the final, she finished in second place.
It wouldn’t be until 2020 when the public would get to hear more from Davies. Her debut EP, Friends with the Tragic, was released through Simon Cowell’s label, Syco, before they ceased operations. Taking control of her career, Davies has served as an independent artist ever since and continued to propel herself like never before. Her sophomore EP, i wonder if you wonder, dropped the following year and included her most successful single to date, “roots.” First heard by the public through her X Factor audition, the song proved to be more popular than ever four years later, organically gathering nearly 11 million Spotify streams and becoming her first entry on the official UK singles chart.
Since Davies believes in trilogies, there will be a third EP, It Wasn’t Perfect, But We Tried, to close this current chapter in her career. Scheduled for an October 7 release, the forthcoming project will consist of five genre-crossing songs that will show off Davies’ new-found talent as a producer. Just months after releasing the co-produced “Wolves,” the Blackburn-born emerging talent arrives today with the EPs second offering and her first fully self-produced song– the heart-wrenching “Already Gone.”
In an interview with EUPHORIA., Davies opened up about the challenges behind producing her new single, life as an independent artist, and what she hopes to achieve in the next year.
“Already Gone” is your new single. Tell our readers about the song and how long ago you wrote this particular one.
I wrote “Already Gone” in 2019, so it’s been sitting with me a while. I always knew that it was one of my favorites. Basically, I wrote it about my one and only adult relationship, a person I feel was probably “the one” who I missed the boat with because I completely self-sabotaged and fucked up the relationship big time. I always usually write about boys that have broken my heart. I do the classic, oh, woe is me, but this one is just the complete opposite. It’s like, yeah, I had a bad thing and I regret that. I wish that I could change it, but I can’t.
Was it a challenge to fully produce the song? Since it’s a stripped-back ballad, many would assume that it would be fairly easy. However, if that was the case, more people would be producing their material.
It was, and I think for a few different reasons. The first is that I have a close connection to it. As the sole person that’s producing it, you don’t have anyone else to bounce back off and be like, oh, do you think that we should do these here? You have to fully believe in what you’re doing. I think I was seeking approval from everyone around me, like management, asking if it was good. Especially since it’s my first production as well. It’s a skill that I taught myself in lockdown just to sort of survive. To actually be able to do it and hopefully make it sound good and have that as the final product has been amazing. It’s kind of installed a lot of belief into myself as to what I can do by myself.
But yeah, it was hard. I think especially with ballads, they may be harder because I think with tempos you can kind of throw the kitchen sink in and if it sounds a bit dodgy, it’s kind of hidden within the drums and stuff. Whereas, there is like no hiding in this kind of song. I think creating the sensitivity and the journey and every single second, you can hear a pin drop and those strings need to come in at the right time and make people feel something. I think that’s what makes it harder. It’s been difficult but also really fun to do that by myself.
Since you were so hands-on with the song, did it go through many revisions?
It went through quite a few. I think that’s just the nature of doing something completely by yourself. However, there are also times when you don’t know when to stop. I found it really difficult to just sort of step back and go, right, I’m not going to touch it anymore. It went through a few revisions but it’s always had the same parts of the same piano sound, the same vocal, and the same strings. It was just adding little flares. It’s been a journey.
How long previously had you been thinking of fully producing your music?
I’ve always said that I’ve had a producer’s head, but never an engineer’s hands. I’ve always been really hands-on in the production, vocally. I’ve always been in the studio telling people what to do, where and what to add, but was never able to do it myself. I think last year on my last EP, I got production credits because I was there in the room spouting ideas and stuff. I didn’t really realize that I would ever be able to do that. So, I think way back then I just never really assumed that I would ever be credited as a producer.
I think it was amazing to be credited for my ideas, but now obviously I have the skills from lockdown. If you’ve got the skills, you might as well as apply them. I think it’s just nice to have your name above the door and to be taken seriously in the industry and be like, yeah, I did that, it’s cool. So yeah, I don’t think I ever imagined that I would, but now I very much like fight for it.
“Already Gone” joins “Wolves” as one of the five tracks on your upcoming EP. Those two songs alone are very different from one another. Is it fair to say that the rest of the project is going to showcase even more of your versatility?
Yeah, it is. I think that is my strength and my weakness. I like to dip my feet in every little pool. I love to have a range of different vibes on an EP and this one’s very much the same. There’s another one that’s similar to “Already Gone” because I feel that’s probably my staple thing, the ballads and the strings. But, there are a couple of anthems on there. “Wolves” was the first single, “Already Gone” is now the second, and then the EP will come out. It’s exciting!
What’s it been like transitioning from a major label artist to an independent artist? Has it been more of a challenge than you expected?
I wouldn’t say it was more challenging than I thought because having worked with a label, you see the sort of like the cog of people and how many people it takes to steer the ship. So, having it be just me and my two managers, I was like, yeah, this is going to be a slog. And it has been, but I think we had last year to sort of get to grips with it. And so this time around second Ep as an independent artist, I kind of know what I’m doing, ish. I don’t think anyone really knows what they’re doing.
I’ve still got the grasp of it but it’s really hard. Especially when you’re trying to compete with major label artists. With the “Wolves” music video, I wanted that to look like it came fresh out of a major label. Trying to compete with the people that have those budgets and those teams around them is difficult. I’m very reliant on the fans to get the songs where they need to be, but I think it’s amazing that I can sit back at the end of it and go, we did that as a little team. It’s really cool.
How about venturing out after The X Factor? The show obviously gives you a huge platform but once that season is over, it seems you’re starting all over again. Was that the case, even though you signed to Syco soon after?
Yeah, it was. I’m not sure that was a particularly bad thing for me because I very much went on that show and used it as a platform to showcase myself as an artist and a songwriter. I came off that show being known as the girl that writes her own songs, which was really cool. Being signed to the label straight away, I was held back for like two and a half years, so I did sort of have to start again, but I’m not sure that that was a necessarily bad thing because anyone who sort of looks down the X Factor within the industry sort of either didn’t know I was on it or had forgotten about it. However, the fans that had sort of moved on kind of came back, which was really nice. It was as if I was starting fresh, but it was how I always expected it.
You parted ways from Syco after the label shut down during the pandemic. Looking back, do you believe that was a blessing in disguise?
Yeah, absolutely. And the thing is, I will never ever have any hard feelings towards the label or anything because I went down with the ship, it wasn’t personal. I wasn’t dropped or anything like that. I think as upsetting as it was that the partnership had been terminated, it made me stronger and want to fight for my career more. I think I went into the beginning of last year with, ‘we’re going to smash this,’ and it was a successful year. It was a blessing in disguise because I’ve been able to do things on my terms and have creative control, which has been so fun. I’ve had to graft a bit harder than I potentially would have if I had been signed to a major label. It’s taught me a lot.
“Roots,” which you performed at your X Factor audition, has since become one of your biggest songs. Releasing that independently last year and having similar success to a major label artist proved you could do it without a big machine.
Yeah, exactly. Exactly that. I think before that song came out last year, I was sort of ready to throw the towel in because I just thought, this really fucking hard and I don’t think I’m going to get anywhere and especially to release “Roots,” a song I performed on the show like four years prior. I thought, no, one’s going to care, they’re not going to come back. And they did! That song proved itself and it’s definitely installed a lot of confidence and kept me going. “Roots” is a special one.
Do you think that down the line you will sign again to a label, even if it’s an indie one? Or are you happy with the way things are now?
I think I’m playing it by ear, to be honest. There was major label interest last year when “Roots” happened and I was quite happy with the way that it was going independently. It’s really amazing to own my own masters and to have that creative control. But, never say never. I’d love to work with a label again because of all the reasons I’ve said, massive teams and way more budget and that just means that the songs will potentially do better and that’s my main priority.
Your press release says you believe in trilogies. Does that mean after this third EP you are going to be working on your debut album?
I never thought that a debut album would be something that I would do independently. I think that’s a conversation that I’m having with myself at the moment. I do believe in trilogies, I think a third EP would be nice to round it off and then go into an album. Financially, going into an album is so scary, so we shall see. I’m definitely ready for an album. I think I have the songs and there’s obviously more to be written. That would be really incredible, like a new chapter for me. It just depends where I sort of end up at the end of this year.
Have you been saving songs for an album? Ones you’ve been putting aside, especially.
Yes. In 2018, I think I wrote like 250 songs in that year. I got a lot that I’ve been saving but because I’ve been so busy releasing and I’ve been doing this independent launch this past like year and a half, I’ve definitely got a lot to write as well.
And lastly, aside from releasing an album, what is something else you want to achieve in the next year?
It’s touring and playing festivals. I’ve never done any festivals. I came straight off the show and was sort of held back and then released my first EP and then the world became a global pajama party. I’ve never had the chance to be on stage and enjoy that and I’ve been on stage since I was like three as a dancer and stuff. I’m really looking forward to the first headline show this month. And then yeah, a UK tour and festivals maybe next year. I’ve never even been to a festival. The whole sort of idea would be really, really cool. Now that I’ve put enough music out, I want to actually sing it.